What are the key issues around restarting live performances?

The Culture Secretary has revealed plans around the phased return of live performances such as theatre productions and concerts.

Oliver Dowden announced his roadmap for resuming live shows after chairing meetings of the Cultural Renewal Taskforce.

Here, the PA news agency takes a look at some of the key issues around the formulation of Mr Dowden’s plan and the problems facing the performing arts.

Coronavirus – Wed Jun 17, 2020
Oliver Dowden has set out a roadmap for the sector (Pippa Fowles/10 Downing Street/Crown Copyright/PA)

What is the Cultural Renewal Taskforce and who is on it?

The taskforce was set up to help the country’s recreation and leisure sector get up and running again.

Former footballer Alex Scott, former BBC and ITV chairman Lord Michael Grade, English National Ballet artistic director Tamara Rojo and tech entrepreneur Baroness Martha Lane-Fox are among the members of the group.

Others on the taskforce include Arts Council England chair Sir Nicholas Serota and Commissioner for Cultural Recovery and Renewal Neil Mendoza.

Twombley painting gifted to Tate
Sir Nicholas is among those on the taskforce (Justin Tallis/PA)

What does the plan aim to do?

Mr Dowden said that his five-stage plan aims to give a “clear pathway back” for the performing arts sector amid the ongoing uncertainty caused by the pandemic.

He said that “clear steps” providing “as much certainty and focus as we can” are needed to help the ailing industry plan for the future.

How badly have the performing arts been hit by coronavirus?

Live performances in front of an audience have not been able to take place since Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced lockdown measures in March.

Since then there have been dire warnings about the financial impact on venues.

Earlier this month the Music Venue Trust said 90% of grassroots venues are facing permanent closure before the end of September.

The government has begun publishing re-opening guidance for the cultural and creative sectors. Take a look at the latest advice 👉 https://t.co/njntGsRL6I

— Arts Council England (@ace_national) June 24, 2020

On Thursday, the Theatre Royal in Newcastle announced plans to make half of its staff redundant because of the impact of the lockdown.

The announcement came after the Theatre Royal Plymouth said it had started redundancy consultations because of falling revenues.

What has the Government done so far for the sector?

The Prime Minister has announced theatres and concert halls are able to reopen from July 4, but not for live performances.

Venues have been entitled to Government support such as the furlough scheme and loans.

What are the next steps?

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport has said it will set out guidance for each stage of the roadmap.

Progressing to different stages of the plan will depend on what public health advice the Government receives going forward.

What have people in the industry said so far?

The move has been welcomed by some in the performing arts sector.

Julian Bird, chief executive of UK Theatre and Society of London Theatre, said that while he is pleased the Government has published its roadmap, more information is needed about when the different stages of the plan will be used.

Kate Varah, executive director of London’s Old Vic theatre, said she welcomes the “clarity and information” but echoed Mr Bird’s call for more detail to be given around timings.

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